It’s time to ditch the tax disc

Would you drive your car without a tax disc? Probably not.

And quite rightly so. You’d fret. And worry. And probably think we hadn’t done our job correctly.

But this could happen. And it worries me.

And do you know what’s daft? It’s a result of a commendably good idea to modernise and streamline the DVLA road tax process for leasing firms such as us who need to register and tax a great many vehicles each week via our supplying dealers.

Here’s how it works: Before this new system was introduced, the dealer could tax a new vehicle via their local Post Office; now all registrations have been centralised with the DVLA in Swansea and sent out from there. It’s called the Automated First Registration and Licensing (AFRL) system and was introduced on 22 July.

If the government wants to slash red tape why not go the whole way and replace the paper tax disc with digital registration.

So far so good. It gets rid of bureaucracy and saves costs. And I’m all for that.

However, I think you can already hear the ‘but’ on my lips…

…but it can take up to 14 working days to process the paperwork by Swansea. So does the dealer delay delivery of the vehicle until the tax disc and associated paperwork arrives? Or dispatches a car without a tax disc?

DVLA says the car can be driven 14 days without a tax disc from the date of first registration.

But would you feel comfortable driving around for a fortnight without a tax disc? And once the tax disc has been delivered to the dealer, it then has to be sent on to you, the driver. So the delay might extend beyond the 14 days of grace. So what happens if you get stopped outside the 14 days?

The whole thing is hugely unsatisfactory and, well…frankly half-baked.

If the government wants to slash red tape – and believe me, I’m behind that – why not go the whole way and replace the paper tax disc with digital registration.

All registration number plates are on a national database already, so it can’t be too difficult to link that to a national register of tax discs.

By going fully online it would streamline the process completely and help save the government money.

It would also reduce the havoc the new system is creating with our supplying dealers in order to deliver the sort of five-star service you expect from us.

So come on DVLA, do us a favour – go fully digital. Ditch the tax disc.